From: Winnipeg, MB
ORIGINAL: Ian R
I don't have my Conways to hand, but doesn't it also refer to an non-existant IJN CV and the IJN BCs that the Alaskas were built to counter? I think it was written so close to the end of WW2 that a bunch of stuff was not quite as accurate as it could be. Still a great tome. Now I have to go fetch it and see if my recollection is correct.
I think it says, IIRC, the Alaska CBs were built to over-counter a proposed IJN large cruiser class. Their design was not a secret, and the IJN moved on to an even larger "BC" design. Which was never built.
The Alaskas, it could be well argued, defeated their proposed opponent on the drawing board. They were also superior to the German panzerschiffe, and I would suggest superior to the Scharnhorst class in everything bar underwater protection.
The Yamato Class figured into this. At the time Japan started on them the naval treaties set the max standard displacement for a BB at 35,000 tons. The Japanese had to buy much more steel and other materials to build the 63,000 ton Yamatos, but wanted to keep their size a secret. They passed a naval budget that included three X 27,000 ton BCs with 12" guns to account for the extra steel needed for the three planned Yamatos (35K tons + 27 K tons = 62K tons).
So the Intel the US was working from was the naval budget and some phony drawings of the planned BCs when in reality the Japanese never intended to build those. By the time the US got some genuine sightings of the Yamatos and figured out that there were no BCs, the Alaska class were well advanced. Since the Alaskas were very good AA escorts for the carrier groups the first two were completed.
No matter how bad a situation is, you can always make it worse. - Chris Hadfield : An Astronaut's Guide To Life On Earth